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Atlanta Hawks – Director, Innovation Lab

Atlanta Hawks – Director, Innovation Lab

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Atlanta Hawks – Director, Innovation Lab

Atlanta, GA

About the Position

Over the last few years, the leadership of the Hawks and State Farm Arena have led a dynamic turnaround of the franchise, on and off the court. The ownership group led by Tony Ressler and Grant Hill set the focus on four key real estate development initiatives:  build a new practice facility; acquire a G-League franchise; renovate and open State Farm Arena; and redevelop downtown surrounding the Arena.  The Atlanta Hawks have made real progress on each of these four initiatives – entitling, breaking ground or completing each one.  The franchise now has the physical assets to grow over the next several years and pivot from being a developer to an operator of these expanded enterprises.
As an operator, the team and arena encompass a broad range of individual businesses that need to work together to create an unparalleled guest experience – property manager, hospitality group, restaurateur, event promoter, parking operator, traffic coordinator, security provider, marketing partner, ticket seller, etc.  Every year, the Arena hosts 1.5 million visitors, serves enough food and drink to be one of the biggest restaurants in Atlanta, manages five separate parking lots across downtown, and produces a range of events from basketball, concerts, family shows to corporate conferences. Everything we do as organization centers on purpose: to serve our guests by creating memorable experiences.
As the broader organization focuses on operations and continuous improvement, the Innovation Lab will focus on identifying opportunities for radical innovation across our guest experience, employee experience, or in adjacent/ new markets. An environment with no limitations, the Innovation Lab will focus on be transformative for our organization.


The Innovation Lab (IL) will consist of a group of cross departmental team members that formally meet once a week. Reporting to the Vice President of Guest Experience, the Director, Innovation Lab (DIL) will be a critical leader and facilitator of the IL and will be responsible for keeping the work moving between IL work sessions. The DIL must be a strategic/critical thinker, must have project management skills, and be capable of rapidly building prototypes that can be tested with guests. This individual must be capable of working collaboratively and influencing without direct authority.
Specifically, the DIL will be responsible for the following:
  • Conduct cross industry research to identify new business/product opportunities, trends, and best practices
  • Conduct research/focus groups with customers to identify opportunities
  • Regularly review and analyze guest survey data, bringing a data driven mindset to innovation
  • Dive deep to fully understand our business to identify the right customer problems
  • Facilitating ideation sessions; implementing design thinking principles to arrive at disruptive/ transformative ideas
  • Leading rapid innovation sprints, driving from idea to prototype in 5 days
  • Executing pilots with live users, leveraging the scientific method to test hypothesis and generate validated learnings
  • Responsible for keeping the work moving, in between Innovation Lab work sessions
  • Build businesses cases and present opportunities to senior leadership
  • Be a curious, creative, dynamic leader helping to drive innovation, transforming the Hawks & State Farm Arena into a model for other organizations to follow

Basic Qualifications

  • A Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree preferred
  • 5+ years of experience across multiple industries or experience in consulting/agencies
  • Possesses project management skills in order to keep project team on track, on time, and on budget
  • Experience with design thinking and facilitation
  • Basic or advanced coding skills with the ability to rapidly build a prototype using tools such as Balsamiq, Mockplus, Axure RP
  • A customer obsessed individual, that works vigorously to understand guest needs and develop products or businesses that meet those needs
  • A curious learning machine – a willingness to dive deep into new domains and the unknown.
  • A bias for action, with the ability to work in ambiguous and changing environments with little direction or information
  • Able to manage failure and expectations, deriving learnings from every initiative
  • Ability to collaborate with various departments and build strong relationships. Excellent communication skills with the ability to influence others to drive change
  • Must be able to work non-traditional hours, including evenings, weekends, and holidays

Interested in applying to this career opportunity?

Please email Taylor Frank, [email protected], and include Atlanta Hawks – Director, Innovation Lab in the subject line.

About the NBA

At the NBA, we’re passionate about growing and celebrating the game of basketball. Through the intensity of the game and the amazing athletic skill of our players, we deliver excitement to hundreds of millions of fans around the world.

As a global sports and media business, the NBA is so much more. While Basketball Operations runs the league’s on-court activities, other departments manage relationships with television and digital media partners, develop marketing partnerships with some of the world’s most recognizable companies, oversee the licensing of NBA merchandise, and handle a wide range of responsibilities that drive the NBA’s success.

Off the court, we’re also deeply committed to social responsibility. NBA Cares leads the league’s involvement in addressing important social issues by working with internationally recognized youth-serving organizations that support education, youth and family development, and health-related causes.

For all NBA listings, visit their Careers page. 

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